One in ten of our staff are nationals of other European nations, and we are not only keen to keep them but want to encourage more to work for us in future.
So as the Government pursues withdrawal from membership of the European Union, the Trust has been exploring what practical support it can offer this key group of staff after Brexit.
One simple step we have decided to take is to pay the cost for individuals to regularise their immigration status in the UK under the Home Office settlement scheme.
This will allow our existing 1,764 EU nationals to have unrestricted rights to remain in this country, plus a UK passport, once they have been living continuously in the UK for five years.
From the 29 November, all employees in the health and social care sector have the opportunity to apply early for settled status as part of a pilot, before the scheme is opened up to the general population next March. Under this phase of the pilot, you will be able to apply for status under the scheme if you are a resident EU citizen with a valid passport.
You will also need to be able to access an Android device in order to use a Home Office app to enable your identity to be confirmed as part of the application process. Your family members won’t be able to apply during this phase of the pilot unless they are also eligible through their employment with a participating organisation or they are also being supported by one of the participating community organisations.
We are now making arrangements to support staff to take advantage of this option, including by meeting the application costs of those who wish to apply. The fee is £65 but is taxable so in recognition of that the Trust will reimburse £85 in gross salary.
Anyone who has lived in the UK for less than five years may be eligible for “pre-settled status” instead. This means they can stay in the UK for a further five years from the date of qualification, and then apply for settled status on the basis of five years’ continuous residence.
A number of other NHS trusts are offering similar levels of support. At Barts Health we already pay the cost of certificates of sponsorship for non-EU workers from overseas, so it makes sense to underline our commitment to staff from the EU too.
Michael Pantlin, executive director of people, said: “Our EU staff are an essential and valued part of our workforce. We appreciate the contribution they make to high quality patient care and want them to continue to work in our hospitals.
“Staff have told us how unsettled they feel and how unsure they have been about the future post-Brexit. We hope the support we are offering will encourage them to have a confident future in east London.”
The Home Office scheme will be open to all EU citizens and their family members living in the UK from 30 March 2019 and close on 30 June 2021. Application will be free for those already with indefinite leave to remain or a permanent residence document.